Spain: Payroll Fraud Goes Undetected for 15 Years
Two council workers in Spain have found themselves out of employment after the local town hall discovered that they had been absent from their jobs for 15 years—but continued to collect their paychecks. Attention initially turned to the pair after it was discovered that they had been paid but had not actually worked from January 2015 to the end of May 2016. After looking further into the matter, human resources officials found that the driver and gardener had actually not worked at all over the course of the previous 15 years.
The workers’ union defended the men, stating that they were taking legitimate days off that they had accumulated (as well as other employees’ vacation days, which can be shared), part of a tacit agreement they had with the town council. Human resources questioned the two workers, after which one returned to work. The second worker submitted a statement that he and his coworkers had accumulated union hours and he was therefore entitled to the time off. The council responded that this was “insufficient to free him from work for the rest of the year, which was his intention.”
The workers have since been terminated and are now faced with disciplinary proceedings that may result in them being required to pay back the money they fraudulently received. The union is currently planning to appeal the dismissal of the workers.
In the course of this investigation, it also came to light that several employees from the local police force had worked less than 100 days in 2015, with one working as little as 47 days the entire year. The officers often claimed to be at meetings; however, it was found that these meetings didn’t actually happen and—in some cases—were claimed to have been held on public holidays.
This isn’t the first time a case like this has made news in Spain. Earlier this year a Spanish civil servant was ordered by the courts to pay back approximately €27,000 in wages he received despite being absent for work for six years. Investigators were tipped off to the problem when the worker was about to receive an honor commemorating 20 years of service; it then dawned on city officials that they couldn’t remember the last time they had seen him at his place of work.
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